[AMICUS CURIAE] A new law concerning palliative care was passed in Russia. There are grounds to say that it is major breakthrough in the way people with life-threatening illnesses are treated.
The law gives a new definition of palliative care. In the previous legal acts, palliative care was described as a form of medical care. In the new law, the definition is expanded. Each patient has a right not only for medical, but also for the psychological, social and spiritual help.
The new law introduced a range of patients rights, including right for analgesia. In addition, patient has a right to receive all the kinds of medical treatment at home. Before that, the capability of doctors to provide help at home was very limited. To receive professional help, patients had to wait for an available place in a hospital and it could take months. The new law enshrines the right of patient for complex help at home, including equipment (oxygen concentrator, ALV apparatuses, etc). This gives an opportunity for an ill person not to stay in the hospice, but to be at home surrounded by his loved ones. Another major change considers the right for palliative care when the patient is unable to sign the agreement to receive it. In such situation, a patient just needs to show his consent -for example, he can do it by gesture. If the condition of patient is so that he is not able to do it, a decision of a panel of doctors will be enough to provide palliative care. It is not longer a violation of law as it used to be.
Another benefit of the new law is that it aims to ease the lives of relatives. Each patient has a right for social worker who can help to take care of him, to assist in patient mobility, to look after him when relatives need to leave home. Moreover, the new law introduced the right for grieving. When an ill child dies at home, the parents are often suspected of manslaughter. Due to the police investigation, parents are spending hours in the police office being examined instead of preparing for their child’s funeral. This new provision protects them from such a terrible situation.
According to the statistics, 1.3 millions of Russians need palliative care. With the new law, the quality of life for the patients and their families is going to be greatly improved. There are no doubts that it is a leap forward for the country where the history of palliative care is only 29 years long.